LANSING, Mich. - World Hepatitis Day is commemorated worldwide on July 28 to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease. There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus: A, B, C, D and E; however, hepatitis C is the most common hepatitis virus in the United States.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can cause both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) illness. It is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. People with HCV infection are often undiagnosed because they remain asymptomatic until decades after infection when symptoms due to advanced liver disease manifest. There is no vaccine for HCV; however, there are effective medications that can cure HCV infection when taken once daily for eight to 12 weeks.
Last year, in recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the launch of the We Treat Hep C Initiative. This initiative is designed to eliminate hepatitis C in Michigan by increasing access to hepatitis C treatment among Michigan Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries.
MDHHS has partnered with AbbVie, the manufacturer of the hepatitis C direct-acting antiviral MAVYRET®, to make the preferred product available to all Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries without prior authorization required. Since the removal of prior authorization from MAVYRET®, there has been a 56 percent increase in beneficiaries who have started HCV treatments.
"World Hepatitis Day is an additional opportunity to encourage all Michiganders to get tested for HCV at least one time in their life, and more frequently if they are in an at-risk category," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. "HCV is curable, and we are committed to making both testing and treatment accessible for all residents in need."
MDHHS has partnered with Wayne State University's Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (WSU's MATEC) to provide case-based discussions, curricula and trainings for interested clinicians. In addition, MDHHS contracted with Henry Ford Health System to maintain an HCV clinical consultation line to provide peer-to-peer advice to clinicians in the process of evaluating and treating their patients for HCV (313-575-0332, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or online).
Since the launch of the We Treat Hep C Initiative on April 1, WSU's MATEC and Henry Ford Health System have received 21 clinical consultations from providers across Michigan, disseminated resource packages with patient educational materials to health centers and clinics, developed webinar trainings and conducted presentations to various organizations and conferences. AbbVie has hosted seven statewide trainings, and over 100 clinicians and health care professionals have attended the trainings across Michigan.
MDHHS and its partners will continue to actively engage with stakeholders and clinicians to ensure Michiganders are linked to lifesaving hepatitis C testing, treatment and supportive services to help eliminate hepatitis C Michigan.
For more information, visit the We Treat Hep C webpage.